Meet our volunteers!

Bellyful has hundreds of volunteers cooking and delivering meals and fundraising in 24 communities around New Zealand – from Auckland’s Hibiscus Coast down to Invercargill. We are highlighting some of these wonderful volunteers and the work they do, as they explain in their own words why they give their time to Bellyful.

 

Meet: Sarah Gardiner, Bellyful North Waikato Fundraising Coordinator

Tell us about yourself and your family?
My husband Blair and I have three boys – Corey 14, Taylor 12 and Kyle 7. We own a dairy farm just out of Huntly.

What made you volunteer with Bellyful?
I had been volunteering for Plunket on the North Waikato branch for many years as chairperson and gave this up once my boys all started school. My friend that I’d meet through Plunket when our 14-year-olds were a few months old got involved with Bellyful so I just joined along with her.

What do you most love about volunteering?
I love helping other people out and making people smile.

How has COVID-19 impacted you?
Hasn’t really affected us as hubby had to keep working.

 

Meet: Hendry, Bellyful Whitianga Cookathon volunteer

Tell us about yourself and your family?
My family and I moved out to New Zealand thirteen years ago, before that I was a chef in Scotland for 28 years. My wife is from New Zealand so it was quite easy to get in, and with two young kids ready for school it seemed the right thing to do. Before moving out we lived in the Western Isles, North Uist, went out for a twelve week head chefs job as I was doing relief work at the time, and stayed for eight years. Very friendly people and a beautiful place to live.

What made you volunteer with Bellyful?
My wife and I help out at the St Andrews church at Christmastime, and Franziska (Branch Coordinator) got in touch with her, so she took me along on the first cook, I enjoyed myself so that was it.

What do you most love about volunteering?
It’s just great to use my skills and help others, I really like working with people, and it’s for a great cause.

How has COVID-19 impacted you?
The COVID-19 virus has impacted all of us, especially when we were trying to work around each other without getting too close. But like everything else, we all found a way to get the job done.

 

Meet: Tinne Geens, Hutt Valley Branch Coordinator

Tell us about yourself and your family?
I am Tinne and moved to New Zealand about 2.5 years ago on my own. So even though I don’t have any “actual” family in New Zealand, I have a wonderful group of friends who I now consider family. These are all lovely people who I have met while working and living in New Zealand and they have all made such an impact on my life. My family back home in Belgium is small, but I am very close to them, even while living on the other side of the world. My little family in Belgium consists of my mom Ria, my dad Bart, my sister Sara and her boyfriend Jelle and their lovely little son Ferre, who is now 10 months old already.

What made you volunteer with Bellyful?
I have always wanted to give back to a community in New Zealand as this is my way of giving back to a country that has given me so much. It is also a great way to make some new friends and get to know more people in the place that is now my home.

What do you most love about volunteering?
I am very much a giving kind of person and try to help everyone around me. I love that by volunteering for Bellyful I help strangers who I have never met and make a (little) difference in somebody’s life.

How has COVID-19 impacted you?
On a personal level, it didn’t impact me that much. I was able to work from home, finished my book and went for walks. On a Bellyful level it did have an impact. I had to cancel our Cookathons, keep the communication lines open to all volunteers in the Hutt Valley and had to put a pause on looking for sponsors. Even now, while we are almost out of it, it is still impacting me. Asking for donations is a lot harder as more people are struggling to make ends meet.

 

Meet: Tracey Marvin, Bellyful Nelson Volunteer Coordinator

Tell us about yourself and your family?
My 13-year-old daughter and I live in Nelson with our lazy but loveable Labrador, having moved off our farm four years ago.  Having some more time available, I wanted to do some volunteer work.

What made you volunteer with Bellyful?
Sarah Kerby, our amazing Branch Coordinator, was setting up our Branch two years ago.  Her positive energy and the solid and established ethos of Bellyful made the decision to give Bellyful some of my time, an easy one.

What do you most love about volunteering?
The culture of Bellyful with well-structured support makes the organisation feel like you are contributing to a sustainable cause that will be around for a long time.  Our volunteers and supporters in Nelson are amazing and constantly display the kind heart that makes provincial New Zealand really special, not only doing the core Bellyful mahi but also helping where needed.

How has COVID-19 impacted you?
Loved lockdown overall.  First week was trying especially knowing others, such as my elderly parents and kids with schoolwork, were struggling.  I found it a bit isolating too but as we settled down, the peace, quiet and pace was great.  Like a lot of people, lost some weight at the beginning but by the end, the Covid calories visited…

The clean air and birdsong were the most memorable aspects of lockdown for me.  I have heard it suggested that regular mini lockdowns would save the planet … sounds appealing to me.

I think a lot of us will have adjusted incomes as a result of Covid and we will ‘cut out cloth’ to cope.  I think we are lucky to have a socially responsible government and supportive community.

 

Meet: Tamsyn Arnold, Bellyful Dunedin Social Media Coordinator

Tell us about yourself and your family?
My name is Tamsyn. My husband Mike and I have two young children: our daughter Zoe (aged 5 years) and our son Zach (aged 11 months). We live in Mosgiel, near Dunedin.

Which branch do you volunteer with and what is your role?
I volunteer for the Dunedin branch. I am the Social Media Coordinator, which basically means I find and/or create content for the Bellyful Dunedin Facebook page in order to engage with our supporters and followers and to increase knowledge of our service in the community so we can reach the families who need our help. I also help out with cooking and delivering meals when I am able to.

What made you volunteer with Bellyful?
Our family received Bellyful meals following the birth of our daughter five years ago and they were amazingly helpful at that time. I enjoy cooking (and eating!) and knew that this was something that I could easily do to help other new parents that were lacking support.

What do you most love about volunteering?
There is the feel-good factor of knowing you are making a positive difference to others, but I’ve also really loved getting to know the people that make up the amazing branch of Bellyful Dunedin: so many wonderful role models.

How has COVID-19 impacted you?
Being at home with two small children during the lockdown period was an interesting and challenging time on a number of levels! In terms of my volunteering for Bellyful: there was so much content on social media that was Covid-19 related (both good and bad news) that it was not an easy task to find appropriate content for our page to somewhat balance this. We also were unable to meet, cook or deliver our meals – so we did not have our usual stories to share about what we have been up to as a Branch.

 

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